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Why Grayson Allen Deserved a Longer Suspension

The NBA could have sent a message about its tolerance level for reckless plays with a harsher punishment.

Grayson Allen Suspension Alex Caruso Bulls Bucks
Photo: Milwaukee Bucks

Friday night’s Chicago Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks game was a marquee matchup. Both teams rank in the top-four of the Eastern Conference standings and are fighting for the Central Division crown. But the game’s narrative centered around a dirty play when Grayson Allen got ejected for throwing Alex Caruso to the ground on a layup attempt midway through the third quarter. The NBA handed Allen a one-game suspension while Alex Caruso will miss 6-8 weeks of action due to a broken wrist resulting from the play.

Given Allen’s history of such incidents at the college and pro levels, the NBA’s discipline simply isn’t harsh enough.

The Play Itself

While the Chicago Bulls eventually lost 94-90, they played a competitive game without Zach LaVine or Lonzo Ball. At the time of the play in question, the Bucks led 55-54 in the third quarter. The game was far from over, so there were no strategic reasons to foul.

Ayo Dosunmu tipped the ball away from Khris Middleton to start a 3-on-2 break the other way. Dosunmu dished it off to Alex Caruso, who came flying in for a layup with Grayson Allen going for the block. Initially, Allen caught Caruso’s wrist going for the ball. He then pulled downward and used his other hand to grab Caruso into a full throwing motion, sending him toward the base of the basket. It was clearly not a basketball play.

After the incident, Allen was smiling on the bench with seemingly no remorse even though he put Caruso’s career in jeopardy.

Regardless of if Caruso was injured or not (he was), Allen deserves a suspension longer than one game. The well-being of opposing players is at stake here.

Grayson Allen’s Muddy History

If this was Grayson Allen’s first such play in the NBA, maybe a one-game ban would be sufficient. But it’s not. Beyond his infamous tripping spree during his college days at Duke, Allen has a history of prior incidents since entering the league.

The first was a multiple-flagrant foul sequence resulting in an ejection, which happened during 2019 Summer League action. In 2020, Allen attempted to trip Trae Young and downplayed the incident when Young called him out on it. The video below is just a short reel depicting some of Allen’s reckless plays.

The Bucks and Khris Middleton Defending Allen is Wrong

Following Friday night’s game, Bulls’ head coach Billy Donovan shared his thoughts on Grayson Allen’s flagrant foul.

“[It] could have ended his [Caruso’s] career…the league should take a hard look at this.”

In Milwaukee’s locker room, the best thing would have been for players to keep their mouths shut regarding the incident. But Khris Middleton called the play a “good hard foul” and said he doesn’t think Allen is a dirty player.

Middleton is a respected player in the league, but these comments are off-base. If one of his Bucks’ teammates was on the receiving end of that same play, he would surely be up in arms.

Furthermore, the Bucks’ reaction to Allen’s suspension was underwhelming.

While it appears to be a cookie-cutter PR statement, “disagree[ing] with the suspension” can be interpreted as enabling Allen’s dangerous actions. What exactly does Milwaukee deem suspension-worthy? And as posed regarding Middleton’s comments, a statement from the Bucks would surely carry a much different tone if one of their players was on the receiving end of such an incident.

The Punishment is Not Sufficient

Grayson Allen’s history of dirty plays is no secret and it should not be overlooked. The NBA could have sent a message about its tolerance level for reckless plays with a harsher punishment. Instead, Allen got a slap on the wrist much less forceful than the blow he delivered to Alex Caruso’s, which is now fractured.

And this whole saga isn’t over yet. The Bucks and Bulls will do battle once again on March 4 at the United Center. While Billy Donovan’s shorthanded team can ill-afford to lose another player due to ejection and/or suspension, the Bulls will surely have Allen’s foul against Caruso on their minds. Chicago would ideally respond by beating Milwaukee handily on the scoreboard, but emotions can take over in the heat of competition.

Only time will tell what takes place in the next head-to-head meeting, but a potential act of retaliation could be in the cards due to all the circumstances outlined above. And the worst part of it all? The NBA could have minimized the likelihood of such an occurrence with a more appropriate suspension for Grayson Allen.

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